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Skeptics Society: How Broadcast Journalism Is Flawed

I have already exposed in the recent past the obvious bias in global warming reporting by publicly-funded BBC.

Around very similar notes, but with a much much wider outlook, the Skeptics Society has now published a very interesting essay by investigative and feature journalist Steve Salerno, titled

How broadcast journalism is flawed
in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for informing viewers is almost nil.

It exposes broadcast journalism as reporter-of-nothing, when not creating panic out of that same nothingness. And it is especially critical of “campaign journalism”.

A couple of quotes:

In truth, today’s system of news delivery is an enterprise whose procedures, protocols, and underlying assumptions all but guarantee that it cannot succeed at its self described mission. Broadcast journalism in particular is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for illuminating life, let alone interpreting it, is almost nil.

You’re in Pulitzer territory for writing about something that — essentially — never happens.

In upcoming blogs I will return to parts of this essay that may be used to explain pretty much all the Climate Change scares that have ever (not) happened.

For now I strongly recommend reading it in full.

0 replies on “Skeptics Society: How Broadcast Journalism Is Flawed”

To improbable:

Salerno’s point is that the “news”, usually presented as some “mirror of the world”, a mirror it ain’t, can’t be, and won’t ever be, at least the way they are constructed at the moment.

I do not care about journalists: I care more about making people aware, especially children in schools, that what appears on TV, on paper, on the internet _requires_ their critical thinking. If they can keep that up, then why not watch television: it’s sure great for entertainment purposes!

The goal will finally be reached when people will stop saying “I saw it on the news!” as some kind of authoritative argument.

This reminds me of the episode of South Park in which a giant dam breaks and destroys the town of Beaverton.

Reporter: “Tom, I’m currently ten miles outside of Beaverton, unable to get inside the town proper. We do not have any reports of fatalities yet, but we believe that the death toll may be in the hundreds of millions. Beaverton has only a population of about 8,000, Tom, so this would be quite devastating.”

I can’t recommend the linked article, he doesn’t have much to say beyond this summary. Obviously the news is about things which are out of the ordinary. Complaining that the airtime given to surgical complications isn’t proportional to how often they compare is a bit silly. If it killed one in ten, should that fact get only six minutes in the hour?

Is it a bad thing that news stirs people up? I say yes, witness the erosion of liberties in the name of fighting terrorism or pedophiles.

So what could you do? I think we need more journalists who are numerate, whose first response to hearing that 1000 people die a year is not “oh my god” but “compared to what?” Perhaps this would be a good project for philanthropy, staff a newspaper with critical thinkers. Although how to get people to read it…

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